Planning your wedding menu can be one of the most fun parts of the process. Your menu can make the reception seem more casual or more formal. For destination weddings, it can showcase the local cuisine for your out-of-town guests. After you’ve chosen your delicious food, the conversation will turn to the bar. If you choose to do an open bar or just a couple of select liquors, it is so much fun to create a signature cocktail. You can even combine your signature cocktail with your favor and serve them in personalized glasses. There are so many options out there, it’s difficult to narrow your choices down to just one or two.
The following guide can help direct you to your best choices:
Your Favorite Drink
Do you and your fiancé have go-to cocktails that you order every time you go out? Do you make it your mission to rank your favorite drink at every restaurant in town? Then this option may work for you. Incorporate your names into the drink title or play on the words “bride” and “groom.” Not only will you ensure your favorite drink is available, it will add more of your personality to the reception.
Consider the time of year you are getting married. Guests won’t be looking for an Irish coffee in the middle of summer, just as a margarita isn’t as great in the winter. The perfect cocktail for an autumn wedding can warm your guests up with a bit of spice. A coffee bar with Bailey’s or Kahlua is great to keep winter guests nice and toasty all night long. A spring wedding is a perfect time for fresh, fruity cocktails with bright herb garnishes. Summer cocktails feature tart citrus flavors in an ice cold concoction.
Your cocktail can draw inspiration from the theme, colors, or location of your wedding. A good mixologist can stir up a concoction that will fit right in and add a thoughtful detail to your day. If you are using an abundance of pink details, you can choose a pink cocktail. If you’re incorporating a hint of the Roaring 20s, offer your guests a gin fizz or a French 75 to help them get into the party. A beach wedding is a great place for a tongue-in-cheek idea such as a Sex on the Beach or Tequila Sunrise. Your cocktail choice is only limited by your creativity, here.
There is always something new to try on the bar scene. The growing trend of master mixologists has provided a vibrant new landscape of cocktails. One of the most popular cocktails right now is the Moscow Mule. It even contributes to your décor with the pretty copper mugs! Infused liquors are also very chic. They can transform an ordinary cocktail into a culinary experience. Think about adding honeysuckle vodka to your traditional Cosmopolitan, or an aromatic like Fernet Branca to a gin martini. The flavors are endless.
Beer and Wine Cocktails
There are plenty of cocktails out there that can combine your favorite beer or wine into an excellent cocktail. The most common example is sangria, but there are plenty of other ways to elevate your wine. Check out a moscatini or a Red Hot Summer.
Beer cocktails like a Michelada are gaining in popularity as well. For Bloody Mary lovers, try a Bloody beer. Combine beer with your dessert and offer Stout Floats.
There are also hundreds of excellent cocktail choices using Prosecco or champagne. Fruit flavored mimosas and bellinis are wonderful, but you can also branch out with cocktails like a Sparkling Julep or a Piña Colada Sparkler.
Mocktails (for the Kids)
If you are planning to have some little ones at your wedding, make sure they can join in the party. Ask your bartenders to have an alcohol-free recipe of your signature drink or another virgin offering that is colorful and fun. This can also be a nice touch if you have friends or relatives that choose not to drink. You could even have pitchers of flavored lemonade or iced tea as an alcohol alternative.
In addition to choosing your signature cocktail, there are other bar considerations you will need to keep in mind. Ask your caterer or bartender if there will be room on the bar top for signs describing your signature drinks and listing other offerings. The bartender may prefer to place the bottles of beer and wine available on top of the bar, and it can get crowded quickly. Signage is important, so if you cannot put it on top of the bar, consider using an easel or another display option.
Also, speak to your caterer about providing the proper glassware for your drinks. Most drinks can be served in a rocks glass, but a specific drink like a Manhattan should be served in a martini glass. Also, let your caterer know if you would like to offer separate white and red wine glasses, or if they can use an all-purpose glass. Ask your caterer to show you their available glassware, and think about using a rental company if you are not satisfied with their options.
Whether you are using a bar service or including the bar in your catering, the bar staff should be professional and well trained. They need to be familiar with cocktails of course, but they must also be comfortable cutting guests off who have had too much to drink.
Understand whether your bar charges will be billed based on consumption or if you will be charged for each open bottle, whether it is empty or not. If the costs seem steep, ask if you can bring your own liquor. While this can cut costs, you must also remember that you will have to be able to store all of those bottles and have someone trustworthy to transfer them to the venue on your wedding day.
No matter what you choose, adding a fun detail like a signature cocktail really creates a party atmosphere. Guests may be more likely to choose your signature cocktail than to ask for a mixed drink to really immerse themselves in the festivities. There are so many resources for finding the perfect cocktail for your day, don’t let a lack of ideas hold you back. The more thought you put into details like this, the more memorable your wedding will be for all of your family and friends.
Ronnie is the content manager for The American Wedding. When she’s not scouring Pinterest and Instagram for the most adorable weddings, you can find her on her paddleboard with her pugs, Max and Charlie.